May 31, 2016
Today was our first rainy day in London. A perfect day for sleeping in, and I did, until 10:30 when a group of us went to what we believed was a Holocaust museum. What we found was less of a museum and more of a small exhibit. It was interesting nonetheless. The exhibit was presented from the British viewpoint of the Holocaust, showing what actions they took and what they could have done better to prevent the loss of lives. So, after a short half hour there, we walked to the British Museum, which was only about a block away. The British Museum a tribute to cultures far and wide that were impacted by the vastness of the British Empire. It is absolutely enormous! You could spend days on end in it and still not be able to see it all. We had about an hour of free time to kill at this point, so I was not able to see very much, but what I did see was amazing. Three things stood out as particularly interesting.
First, there was a display of Aboriginal Australian burial rituals. The one I found most fascinating was their tombs. Years after death, the bones of the deceased are broken and crushed so that the remains can be placed into a hollowed out log. The log is decorated and then positioned vertically in order to ease the journey for the soul that is moving into the afterlife.
Second, a replica of the Nereid Monument. The Nereid Monument was a tomb for nobles of the Lykian people. The civilization of Lykia was discovered between the years 1838 and 1844 over the course of four expeditions by Charles Fellows. The people were native to the area that is now southwest Turkey. Their language is only partially understood, even today. Their alphabet has 29 letters, some of which are borrowed from Greek. The Lykia were influenced by both the Greeks and Persians, and both architectural styles are represented in the Nereid Monument. The monument is named after the Nereids, daughters of the sea god Nerus, whose figures are positioned between each of the columns.
Third, the Rosetta Stone!! (What?! So cool!) It was much bigger than I thought it would be, but it is the only remaining fragment of a much larger slab. It was discovered by Napoleon’s invading army in 1799. It was surrendered to the British in 1801 in the Treaty of Alexandria. By 1802, the British Museum gained possession of the stone, and within 25 years the hieroglyphics were successfully deciphered. The stone is inscribed with the same decree written thrice in three different languages. The first, hieroglyphics, second, Demotic, which was the everyday script of the people, and third, Greek, which was the language of the government.
The wet Millennium Bridge squeaked beneath out feet on our trek to The Globe for the matinee showing of The Taming of the Shrew. I enjoyed this performance much more that Midsummer. This production was an Irish retelling of Shakespeare’s original script, and was modernized, but only to the turn of the 20th century. Unlike Midsummer, this modernization was congruent across all elements of design. The costumes were absolutely beautiful! I only hope that I am able to wear costumes as simply gorgeous as these someday. This was the traditionalist version of Shakespeare that I expected from a world stage so renowned as The Globe. I loved the show, and I loved the experience of seeing a show in the daylight of the open-air theater, just as it would have been in Shakespeare’s day.
As you could probably tell from the title of this post, I chose to see Phantom of the Opera tonight. Again, a fantastic, amazing show. The talent of the cast was incredible. This timeless story is only made better by beautiful sets and costumes galore. I wish I could say more about it, but I find myself speechless and tired. An early morning awaits us. We will be returning to The Globe for a tour of the space, and seeing another matinee show at the National Theater. Until tomorrow!